Board of Education meets to discuss school maintenance

Published 5:48 pm Friday, October 18, 2013

Chilton County Schools Maintenance Supervisor Wayne Howell met with members of the Chilton County Board of Education on Thursday to answer their questions about the maintenance department and upcoming school projects.

Howell gave board members a copy of a maintenance request priority list and explained how his department processes requests and work orders.

Howell said the department attends to emergencies such as water leaks and smoke smells before addressing issues like cracked windows.

“Priority first is safety,” Howell said. “We don’t take it as it comes in, necessarily.”

Below water leaks and smoke smells, issues the department addresses include: an exit door won’t lock, electrical, fire alarm, window broken out, general request, heat and air, plumbing, roof leaks, locks and keys, light and electrical and cracked windows.

Howell said his department changes all air conditioning filters in school buildings—about 1,400 filters—every 90 days in order to keep them from stopping up and damaging air conditioning units.

Howell said the maintenance department consists of five people after losing two employees in the past year or so.

“We just don’t have the manpower,” he said. “It isn’t like we have off the summer. That’s when we kick in to high gear.”

Howell said fixing broken air and heat units occupies much of his department’s time.

“I feel like you’re overworked, you have way too much and not enough help,” board member Pam Price said to Howell.

According to Howell, another problem is work orders not being submitted for issues that arise at individual schools.

All work orders for the maintenance department must be submitted online and can be accessed at any school with Wi-Fi.

“If they don’t put it on that computer, we don’t know,” Howell said. “We can’t read their minds.”

But even with a small staff and tight budget, Howell, his department and the board are preparing for several large projects to begin soon.

On Oct. 15, the board approved an architect’s list of pre-qualified roofing contractors to send bids to for re-roofing Chilton County High School and Jemison High School and to reserve the right to add other qualified contractors upon the recommendation of the architect and maintenance supervisor.

“As long as we can keep things running, I’m not going to complain,” Howell said. “My men are not going to complain. We’re doing all we can do.”